Apple now has a very unexpected bedfellow. Nokia has filed a brief supporting Apple's bid to secure permanent injunctions against several Samsung smartphones. The Finnish manufacturer is so far the only third-party entity to come forward and back Apple’s longstanding appeal.

The brief was filed earlier this week at the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington under lock and key, but there’s a summary attached that makes for interesting reading. As per a report by Reuters, Nokia says trial court judge Lucy Koh got it wrong when she denied the Cupertino company’s request for a permanent injunction on the alleged infringing products.

This turn of events is surely different from Apple and Nokia’s legal history. The two companies fought a patent-related court battle in 2009, when the whole Apple-Samsung tussle began. They settled out of court in a couple of years, with the Cupertino company paying Nokia an undisclosed amount in royalties.

A surprising partnership

Connecting companies

In the filing, Nokia attorney Keith Broyles argued that Koh made a mistake by ruling that the iPhone maker must establish a “causal nexus” between their patents and the demand for its phones in order to secure the permanent injunction. A rule such as this “could cause wide-ranging damage to the United States patent protection landscape,” Nokia said.

Broyles wrote that Nokia's protecting patent rights creates the right environment for research and innovation. “Nokia has recently been involved in numerous U.S. patent lawsuits, as both a plaintiff and defendant,” Broyles wrote. “Nokia is thus both a significant patent owner that might seek an injunction to protect its patent rights, and a manufacturer in an industry in which patent owners routinely issue threats of injunctions for patent infringement.

The deadline for filings supporting Apple was February 19, but Nokia asked for a two-week extension to submit its brief. The filing also reveals that besides Nokia, no other company or advocacy group has filed any amicus briefs in support of Apple. Samsung's brief will be filed in the coming weeks, and companies who want to back the South Korean electronics giant will also have their opportunity to file briefs, just like Nokia.

Earlier, Apple had urged the Federal Circuit to expedite its appeal and immediately hear its lawyers before the full court. However, the request was rejected and a three-judge panel was assigned for a preliminary hearing.

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